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Harry Hamlin

Harry Hamlin


One can talk about the "risk" the stars of Brokeback Mountain took in accepting their roles, but for rising star Harry Hamlin in 1982, playing an out gay man in Making Love--and having a full-on love scene with Michael Ontkean--was truly risky. Now that this gay classic is on DVD, we had a chat with the still-smoldering Hamlin.

I attended the 20th anniversary screening at UCLA a couple of years ago, where you spoke afterward, and it was a shock to me how bold Making Love was. It got a bad rap over the years for being very safe, but I think Making Love really pushes it, as far as a big studio movie goes. It was a contemporary story at the time. Brokeback Mountain is a period piece. And as a contemporary story, it does push the envelope--the kiss and even the lovemaking scenes that were in there would probably be equally as controversial today as they were that many years ago.

When you were first approached with this material, did you hesitate? I was reading a lot of scripts then. My career was on a fast-track trajectory, and most of the scripts I was reading were pretty stupid. They didn't really resonate in any way socially. And I read this script and saw that it was a slice of contemporary life that was being ignored by the popular media, I guess because it was too hot to handle. But I thought of it as being something relevant to the times, and that was the kind of filmmaking that I wanted to do. So I jumped at it. Yes, there were people who said, "You can't play a gay character and get away with it," but I had come from repertory theater, where I was playing all kinds of characters every week. So as an actor it just seemed to me that you're an actor, you take on a part, and you play it. And if you do a good job, somebody shakes your hand, and if you don't, nobody talks to you. Certainly I never thought the actual subject matter would have been problematic.

What's interesting to me about Brokeback is how much 14-year-old giggling there is in the mainstream media, even from Oprah, in talking about gay love and gay sex. Did you face a similar "tee-hee" factor when Making Love came out? I'm not sure about the "tee-hee" factor; people were more angry about it. There was a backlash in the media of "What do you guys think you're doing?" and "This is stupid." A lot of the reviewers that I remember really got pissed off that we made this movie.

I understand you were the only cast member who knew that you were the killer during season 1 of Veronica Mars. Was that tricky to keep secret from your costars? I don't know that I was the only one who knew, but I did know. From the moment the producer called me and asked me to play the role, he told me. And I thought, That's odd. Why would they tell me if they want to keep this a big secret? And then I figured it was all just misinformation, that they were giving me the story, and I might leak it and wind up not being the killer. So I just kept my mouth shut. I actually thought Lisa [Rinna, Hamlin's wife] was the killer; her character disappeared, and then I figured they were just going to spin it out that way.

You were once named People's Sexiest Man Alive. Does that come with a plaque or a watch or anything? [Laughs] Oh, man. I don't know what it comes with today; things have changed so much. When I used to go to the Oscars to present, or the Golden Globes or the Emmys or whatever, you got a little note that said, "Thanks for coming." I was just reading today that they get these bags with $50,000 worth of swag in them. I've got to get back in the game! No, it came with nothing...but mortification.

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